John McCain: White House on Ukraine ‘stunning’
By: Lucy McCalmont
February 20, 2014 12:03 PM EST
Arizona Sen. John McCain repeated calls for targeted sanctions on Ukraine and slammed the administration for its handling of the U.S.’s relationship with Russia.
“This is the most naive president in history,” McCain said Thursday on Phoenix radio station KFYI of President Barack Obama, citing both his “flexibility” comments to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as well as the “reset button” on Russian relations.
“The naiveté of Barack Obama and [Secretary of State] John Kerry is stunning,” the Republican senator said.
He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “played us so incredibly.”
Following a statement he released Wednesday with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) calling for targeted sanctions after the recent violence in Ukraine, McCain warned it could escalate.
“This thing could easily spiral out of control into a major international crisis. The first thing we need to do is impose sanctions on those people who are in leadership positions,” McCain said.
Specifically attacking Putin — “he’s amoral, he’s cold, he’s distant, he’s tough” — McCain said to watch what happens after the Winter Olympics in Sochi end.
“Watch Putin after the Olympics are over. He may try — and I emphasize may — try to have some partition of … Ukraine,” McCain said. “He is committed to keeping Ukraine as part of Russia.”
“Putin believes Ukraine is an integral part of Russia. He will not go quietly into the night about when Ukraine moves into the European orbit, so to say,” the senator said.
McCain said Ukraine was headed toward joining the European Union before Putin stepped in. He said the U.S. should not get involved militarily, but said it can work in cooperation with European allies by imposing sanctions and “economic pressures” and make it easier for Ukraine to join the EU.